Falling Like Lightning

The more dramatic the better! These two scriptures give us all the drama of sickness and healing, prophets and kings, going on exciting, tension filled missions, and…..a dig at Satan! Who doesn’t like reading the Bible!?

Sadly, few seem to read passages such as these and even fewer make the effort to study them! Partly because 1) they ARE difficult and 2) they seem so removed from our own experiences and our contemporary world.

Well….regardless of the differences between the time of Elisha, the First Century, and 2016, we today still encounter sickness, seek healing, have powerful people in governments, and have to deal with rejection from others and our own pride (Satan falling from heaven!).

So, fear not! The difficult, eye opening Bible passages still have a message for us if we but sit with them awhile, share together in study, and “go on mission” to experience their message in our 21st Century world! “All things are possible with God.” Call a neighbor today and invite them to church where Word and Sacrament are celebrated this Sunday! Dramatic in the best sense of the word!

See you there!

Pastor Barry

Hand To The Plow, Double Portion

At whatever age, we each have someone we look up to, someone we consider an example or a mentor. Someone we might even say that, we “want to be like him or her!” Think of the golfer who wants to be the next Tiger Woods. The next Michael Jordan! The next beloved Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan. (It IS an election year!). Or someone as close as a parent, a teacher, a good friend, a coach, an exemplary citizen.

And then we think of the challenge to even come CLOSE to being like that person.

In young Elisha’s case….he wanted a “double portion” of the power and spirit of his mentor prophet Elijah! He came real close! In the situation, tho, of the misunderstanding but earnest disciples…..Jesus is very straight with them: follow me…but at a cost! No looking back. Hand to the plow forward. Let the dead bury the dead!

I tend to draw my hand back at that! The cost of discipleship is….well….there will be a cost. But we never have to go it alone. If we all know we each will “bear each other’s burdens,” we can endure and even transcend the cost. At least this is our prayer. Pray for one another! Be the friend of faith to another And come to worship on Sunday! That will help also!
See you there!

Bro Barry

Questions For Fathers and Others of Faith

Elijah was a mighty prophet. But he had his moments. Here in I Kings he is ready to quit. He says, “that’s enough!” “I am no better than my fathers!” v. 4 (KJV). He has doubts; he has questions.

The Psalmist echoes Elijah when in v. 5 these words haunt him: “Why am I so sad? Why am I troubled?”

Jesus, centuries later, addresses the suffering of a man possessed by demons- a “Legion” of them! More misery and the man even asks Jesus “What do you want with me?! I beg you, don’t punish me!”

And on it goes. This past week has been full of questions after a horrific mass shooting. The inexplicable killing of a talented 22 year old singer. And so many other sadness’s. Perhaps a rush to answer any of these questions of sorrow is not the way forward. Of course, if asked we will make the effort, but quick religious answers may not help.

Maybe like Elijah we sit with the questions….for a while….and hope for that “still small voice” to come to us and at least say go forward. Don’t get stuck on the question or the answer that may not satisfy. Sit…wait….listen.

Perhaps faith is the only way. On this Father’s Day we will examine ourselves only in terms of faith not so much in how good an answer any of us have come up with when we suffer, when we doubt. The step forward is in trusting God WILL be there in our questioning and promises to stay with us over “the long haul.”

That seems right when we have a God we call Abba, Father, “Daddy!” The Parent who never leaves nor forsakes.

Praise be to God…..even while we sit in silence.

See you in worship!

Pastor Barry

Remind Me Again?

We are on the eve of our Methodist conferencing once again. Gathering in Annual Conferences around the world some 10 million still under the Methodist “umbrella!” 54,212 pastors and 42,195 congregations in the USA, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Each conference will worship, ordain, send forth in service both lay and clergy, memorialize the saints triumphant, celebrate missions and outreach, and pray a lot!

However…..our common Lectionary scriptures for Sunday worship before conference remind us how BAD we can be, how fallen we are, and how great a salvation we have received! King Ahab, Jezebel, and us! Paul included! And a sinful woman in the house of a hypocritical Pharisee who invited Jesus for a meal!

The Bible stories and teaching are really about us only a few thousand years or so removed. Maybe we are not THAT bad but we do need to look In the mirror after every reading of scripture!

And so we will look in the mirror, so to speak, while at Brentwood UMC, this coming week for Annual Conference . We will see Saint and sinner, forgiven and freed people all together because of God in Christ!

Thanks be to God! See you in church being the church throughout the week!

Pastor Barry

From Bad To Worse, From Good To Great

On June 6th many will honor the memory of those who landed on the beaches in Normandy to begin the final purge of Nazism from Europe. Sacrifices were made by thousands.

On June 9th one of the greatest English writers, Charles Dickens, will be remembered in ceremonies and tributes on the anniversary of his death in 1870. He had just returned from an exhausting tour of America. He famously said in the opening line of a Tale of Two Cities, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.”

Just as D-Day June 6, 1944 was “the worst of times and the best of times” our scriptures reflect that very feeling. Here Elijah the prophet goes hungry, is fed by Ravens provided by God, then later fed by a poor widow. The widow’s son dies and cries out to Elijah who raises the son from death.

In Luke, Jesus acts with compassion upon a widow whose son has just died. And in Galatians, Paul tells of his highly unexpected conversion and radical transformation over a period of 3-14 years (depending on how you count!).

In these Biblical accounts we hear the echo of Dickens….”the worst of times, the best of times.” Faith is the path we take to go from Promise through Pain until we arrive at Fulfillment. Let us encourage one another this week in the Faith! The path is terribly hard at times but God will provide!

Pastor Barry